Korea: Short, Ignorant and Surly

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November 7, 2007: South Korea and the U.S. are negotiating the details of how South Korea will take over command of wartime military operations in South Korea. Since 1950, the U.S., in the name of the UN, has been in charge. This will change in five years, as South Korea becomes master of its own house, militarily, once more.

November 6, 2007: Off the coast of Somalia, a U.S. Navy destroyer assisted one North Korean merchant ship to resist pirates, while refusing a request to detain and search (for contraband) another North Korean ship. It is believed that North Korean ships are smuggling weapons into Somalia, which is under a UN weapons embargo. North Korean ships are usually found taking risks to make big bucks, and this usually involves operating in places no one else will go, doing things no one else will do.

November 5, 2007: The North Korean army has been hit with yet another side effect of the famine that began in the 1990s. A growing number of new 18 year old conscripts are not only small (because of malnutrition) but also uneducated, some are even illiterate. This is shocking in a country which has long stressed education. But faced with starvation, many parents have been keeping their kids out of school, so everyone can work to get food. This is becoming obvious as military commanders complain that so many of the new recruits are not only small, but uneducated and difficult to train. These recruits are also surly, as many of them have not only been screwed over by the government, but are not afraid to express their anger over this treatment. Just the kind of people the government does not want to see.

November 4, 2007: South Korean arms exports will be more than four times larger (at over $1.1 billion) than they were last year. South Korea is encouraging weapons sales abroad, and hopes to become one of the top ten exporters in the world in the next decade (it is now 19th). The big increase this year came largely from sales of the KT-1 trainer aircraft and the K2 tank[VIDEO].

November 3, 2007: North Korean police are fighting a losing battle to control what movie CDs get into circulation. This is an older, much cheaper, pre-DVD technology, that was very popular in East Asia during the 1990s. Lower resolution movies and TV shows were recorded on CDs and sold for a dollar or so per disc. Most popular has been South Korean movies and TV shows. These are enjoyed for their recreational element, but the government fears that this will spread the news that South Korea is doing much better economically than the north. Lots of second hand CD players are getting into North Korea from China, where DVD is all the rage.

November 1, 2007: As North Korea begins to dismantle its nuclear weapons fuel plant, it must be realized that North Korea still has the people who put this operation together. North Korea could rebuild all this in less than a year. It is also feared that North Korea has exported its nuclear weapons research activities Syria or Iran.

October 28, 2007: A growing threat to communist control in North Korea is the rapidly expanding number of Christian converts. For over a decade. South Korean Christian churches have been working to get missionaries, as well as information about Christianity, into North Korea. They have succeeded, and North Koreans have taken to it, even at the risk of death or imprisonment. Missionaries (usually North Koreans who escaped to China, got religion and training, and returned) who get caught are executed or sent to prison. There are over 10,000 Christians in the north now, and the number is growing rapidly. These missionary activities are an embarrassment to South Korea, which tends to play down the nastier aspects of North Korea (the regular executions, and the hundreds of thousands in harsh prison camps.)

October 26, 2007: Over the last year, the number of badges, posters and general publicity for leader Kim Kong Il has been scaled back, while that sort of thing for his father, North Korean founded Kim Il Sung, has increased. No one is quite sure what that all means.

 

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